RV Values: How To Find Out What Your RV Is Really Worth

Whether you’re selling your RV or looking to buy one, the one piece of information that is critical to your being comfortable with the deal you’re about to make is knowing what your RV is really worth. 

RV Dealership Sales Tactics

If you’re making a deal at an RV dealership, salesmen are pros at juggling numbers so that you’ll be awed at how low the monthly payment will be.  They’re counting on the fact that the majority of people are more concerned with how much of their monthly budget will go toward payments on their new purchase than what the actual full price is. 

The RV dealer’s favorite ploy is to pump up what they’ll allow you for your trade-in.  On their form, it will appear that they are giving you almost as much as you paid for your trade-in when it was new.  The catch is: they have gone from working on a much reduced sales price for a new RV to the full sticker or MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) price. 

The difference in today’s economy between the sticker price and the price you could buy it for if it was a cash deal, with no trade-in, could easily be many thousands of dollars.  It could be as much as 25% or more off the sticker price!

With this fuzzy math method of calculating the price you’re really paying, it’s to your benefit to go in with as much understanding of actual value as you possibly can. 

So, before you let a salesman at the RV dealership get you into that chair in his office, you should know ahead of time what your trade-in is worth, and what the RV you’re interested in buying is really worth. 

That way, you will know the bottom line that you are willing to accept before he even starts the routine of going back and forth to the sales manager to get an OK because he’s "practically giving it away and doesn’t have the authority to close the deal on his own." 

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RV Price Guides

Today, there are many resources to help you determine a fairly accurate approximation of value on any given recreational vehicle. 

Online you can find both the low and high retail values for any vehicle by using the NADA Vehicle Pricing Guide.  But this doesn’t give you the full picture, as you still don’t know what the wholesale value is. 

A dealer operates from the wholesale figure, which is measurably less than the retail value. 

To get the wholesale value on an RV, you could use an online appraisal service which will provide you with the information you need.  They use both, Wholesale NADA and Kelly Blue Book RV Pricing, to create custom "RV Blue Book Value Reports, appraisals, and price guidelines" for new and used RVs. Of course, there’s a fee for this service though.

You could also purchase the latest Kelly Blue Book directly from the company and have access to whatever pricing information you may need. 

One thing to remember when it comes to any pricing guide…  It’s just that, a guide or tool to aid in determining value.  The only true determination of value is local sales comparisons.  If the market for RVs is depressed in your area, the value for RVs will be less.  If RVs aren’t selling, then the value for RVs will generally be low in that area.

Whether You’re Buying Or Selling…

Setting a fair price for an RV can be a touchy situation. 

With today’s economic situation, it’s definitely a buyer’s market.  Meaning, if you have an RV to sell or are planning on trading in an RV, the value of your recreational vehicle is going to be dramatically lower than it was before the economy headed south. 

In the end, your RV is only worth what someone is willing to pay to buy it.

On the other hand, if you’re shopping for your first RV with cash in your pocket, now’s the time to work the deal of the century!  RV dealers are very anxious to sell right now and will make some really good deals.

Curtis Carper

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs -- including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you've got a good idea of who I am.

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  • Aim

    How can I find out the original retail price of a 21ft Gulfstream B touring Cruiser. In trying to get an insurance quote I was told the price I was familiar with was incorrect.

    • Curtis

      Aim, the way I see it you can ask the insurance company what price they say is correct. If you’re comfortable with their price fine or consider a different insurance company.